Boutique smartphone maker Vertu’s UK manufacturing operation will be shut down, putting 200 people out of a job, Financial Times (FT) reported, just four months after it was sold to a member of an “exiled and secretive Turkish business dynasty” in a deal worth $50 million.
Attempts by the new owner to buy the company out of administration failed, FT reported, as have attempts to resuscitate the business by cutting the price of its non-customised handsets from £10,000 and above, to between £4,000 and £7,000.
In March, Baferton, a Cyprus-registered company, acquired the Vertu business from previous owner, China-based Godin Holdings.
Baferton was funded by Hakan Uzan, part of a Turkish family with some history in the mobile industry.
Uzan will keep the Vertu brand, technology and design licences, and plans to rebuild company, FT said.
Vertu was rumoured to be on the brink of administration in 2016. The company failed to file its 2015 accounts and, after the acquisition was complete, Uzan reportedly discovered it had an accounting deficit of £128 million.
The manufacturing arm was placed into administration before Uzan tried to buy back the business for £1.9 million.
News of the demise of the UK manufacturing arm comes a matter of weeks after Vertu agreed a deal with smartphone maker TCL, covering the use of “advanced and innovative technology” from the Chinese company for “30,000 handcrafted Vertu phones”, to be produced at the UK plant.
With an entry selling price of £7,500, more than 500,000 devices have been sold by Vertu since its first unit shipped in 2002. It counts more than 225,000 registered users.
The company was set up in 1998, when it was part of Nokia, before being sold to private equity company EQT in 2012 and then to Godin three years later.